All-Pro safety Earl Thomas said Sunday following the Seahawks' 26-20 win in overtime against Denver he wouldn't mind going on a cruise during Seattle's bye week.
And he could -- to Indonesia and back, if he wanted. The Seahawks have just started a 6 1/2-day, in-season vacation.
Players get paid as if there is a game, part of their 17-week salary for the regular season. But there is no game -- and for the Seahawks, no practices, either, thanks to coach Pete Carroll giving them this entire week and coming weekend off. They are due back on the practice field in Renton next Monday, to prepare for their next game in 14 days, the Oct. 6 Monday night game at Washington.
When I asked if he had any limitations on where the players could go or what they could do during their bye, Carroll gave me a deadpanned look and said: "They are going to come back by Monday."
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So, no, the players weren't exactly tiptoeing away from the Virginia Mason Athletic Center this afternoon. Those are the vapor trails coming out of Renton about the time Carroll was starting his weekly Monday press conference.
This is the same way Carroll did it last season, when the Seahawks' bye also came before a Monday night game, the one at home against New Orleans. The fifth-year coach in Seattle, and former one in charge of USC, the Patriots and the Jets said this isn't always how he's done it, giving players the entire bye off, and it won't necessarily be the way he will do it in the future. But Carroll said the core of this team has so internalized his system and what he expects that he trusts them -- and that for the Seahawks to play as fast as Carroll has built them to they need to be completely off during the bye.
"We need to keep them fast," is how he put it.
This week the Seahawks -- and Broncos, for that matter -- are each getting the earliest byes in the league this season. So are the two other NFC West teams, the Rams and Cardinals, plus the Browns and Bengals. That means the final 13 games of the regular season will be without a break. Carroll just said that's the way it is, and Seattle's fine with that.
As he said, "you don't have a choice" when the bye is.
--Carroll didn't specifically confirm the Fox Sports report from late last night that safety Kam Chancellor has bone spurs in his ankle and is delaying surgery that would have kept him out eight weeks. Carroll said Chancellor "has had ankle issues for some time," and that it was "on fire" two games ago in San Diego and "really got in way of his play." Carroll credits the Seahawks' training staff for "finding a couple of things that could help him" and that the staff "managed it really well" to enable Chancellor to play his best game since the Super Bowl on Sunday against Denver. He had an interception, almost a second one of Peyton Manning, and forced a fumble on the game's first scrimmage play. Carroll said the ankle issue may be one that lasts the majority of the season with Chancellor, but it sounds like this management of it will suffice for now.
--Russell Okung is fine, Carroll said. The coach described how the starting left tackle was so scared initially while he was motionless on the ground during Sunday's game, fearing he had a major injury to his arm-shoulder area that Okung was on that turf praying. But all it turned out to be was a shoulder strain. Okung missed a handful of plays and then returned and finished the game.
"His prayers were answered," Carroll said.
--Cornerback Tharold Simon, who was going to be the fill-in nickel back until he had minor knee surgery three weeks ago, ran today for the first time since the procedure. Carroll said it's still to be determined if Simon will be practicing next week.
Marcus Burley, acquired Aug. 30 in a trade with the Colts, remains the nickel back replacing injured Jeremy Lane. Burley has surprised the Seahawks with how aggressively and well he has played while still so new to the system. He's been well worth that sixth-round pick next spring that Seattle gave to Indianapolis for him.
Burley got walloped by Chancellor as they both defended an incomplete pass to Emmanuel Sanders that began Denver's final drive; Burley said it's the hardest he's ever been hit. He had to leave the game briefly, and Manning beat third-string nickel Josh Thomas on the next play -- the same play as the previous one -- a looping route down the left side to the wide-open Sanders for 42 yards with 52 seconds left. So, yes, Burley is valuable.
Carroll said Lane, on the team's injured-reserve list with a designation to return after eight weeks, is on track to return to practice as early as Oct. 22. That would be the earliest he can be rule -- that IR-to-return designation allows players on it to return to practice after six weeks from the day they were placed on it, and to return to games in eight weeks.
The earliest Lane can play in Nov. 9 against the New York Giants.
--Carroll said he praised all the cornerbacks in film sessions today, including Byron Maxwell. Maxwell, opposite All-Pro Richard Sherman, was targeted at least a dozen times by Manning on Sunday and finished with 11 tackles, tying linebacker Bobby Wagner for the team high.
"They were aggressive ... challenged every route," Carroll said of Maxwell and the corners.
--Carroll also praised rookie linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis for stellar special-teams play in his NFL debut. The fourth-round draft choice from Boston College missed the first two games with a hamstring injury.